BatGuys and the Pan Mass Challenge
I became aware of the Pan Mass Challenge in 2005 when I saw the opening ceremony live on NECN one night while flipping through the channels on television. I found myself immediately interested by what I saw in the program. It seemed like such an awesome event. A 200 mile bike ride with over 3000 people and all in the name of raising money to find a cure for cancer and to help those that have been diagnosed with the disease. I did some research on the event and found 2 things about the event that intimidated me. The first was the 200 mile bike ride. I have been an avid mountain biker since I was 15 years old. I could ride 20-30 miles in the woods but I had never ridden a road bike. The thought of a 200 mile ride was more than a bit intimidating. The second thing that concerned me was the fundraising. Back in 2007 the fundraising minimum was around $3800.00. That seemed like an awful lot of money for someone that had never participated in an event such as this one. At this time I decided that I was going to THINK about riding in 2008.
Over the next year I slowly began my preparation for entering the event in 2008. I bought an entry-level road bike and eased my way into riding on the road. I also started to think of ideas on how I could raise almost $4000 to fund my ride. During this period I had a couple close friends get diagnosed with cancer. Having this happen is what really pushed me over the edge. In November of 2007 I decided that I was going to ride in 2008 and do the full 200 mile ride.
Iron Mike Mahler
In December of 2007 I came across a guy on a fishing forum that I frequent that was running a raffle to raise money for his 2009 PMC ride. The guy's name was Iron Mike Mahler. I contacted Iron Mike, told him that I was going to ride in the 2008 PMC and asked if he could offer any advice to a first-year rider. Mike responded promptly and told me that he would do everything in his power to help me and basically hold my hand every step of the way.
As it turns out Mike is a hardcore PMC veteran of many years. He is the captain of Team LEGS (LegsEndingGreatSuffering) and lives and breathes for the PMC. I couldn't have found a better person to guide me. Over the next 6 months Mike answered no less than 200 questions for me and basically became my PMC mentor. Mike helped me in everything from training, nutrition, technical issues and everything in between. Mike helped me pick out my new road bike and also asked me to join team LEGS.
Throughout the spring and summer of 2007 I trained and I trained hard. As I mentioned earlier I was somewhat intimidated by the idea of a 200 mile ride. By this time I already had a lot of people sponsoring me in this ride. If I couldn't finish this ride because I wasn't in good enough shape I would have been embarrassed beyond belief and I wasn't going to let that happen. When the day of the ride came I was ready. You can read more about my first PMC ride at the bottom of this page.
Like many other riders I turned to my family and friends for help in raising money for my PMC fundraising campaign. Everyone I approached was eager to chip in and donate. However I quickly found that $3800 was a lot of money to raise and I was going to need a lot more than what I had scraped up from my family and friends. I began to solicit product donations from fishing tackle manufacturers in an effort to gather products that I could raffle off online. This was somewhat successful for me but for the amount of time invested in this raffle I think I could have done a lot better with a different approach. It became clear to me that I was going to fall well short of the $3800 minimum if I didn't come up with a better idea on how to raise money.
In early July of 2007, about a month before the event I had a brilliant idea. I would turn to the wildlife removal industry to raise the rest of the funds that I was lacking. Since BatGuys.com was launched I have always had people calling me and emailing me from neighboring states and even other parts of the country looking for referrals. They find me online and contact me to see if I can recommend a competent and reputable company in their area to perform services such as bat removal, bat guano removal, mouse-proofing etc. I have a lot of connections in my industry and I know some of the best wildlife removal guys in the country on a first-name basis. I have been sending referrals to certain companies for YEARS and I had never asked for anything in return. It wasn't uncommon for me to send 20-25 referrals to come companies over the course of a year. Not only that but I had given a lot of referrals to local companies in my service area as well.
I contacted these guys that I had been giving referrals to for all these years and basically told them that I had never asked them for anything in the past but now....I'm asking. This worked out well for me and within a week I had surpassed the $3800 mark and ended up over $5000.00 by the day of the ride.
Another fundraising method that I used was to ask my customers for contributions. Most of my customers were happy to make small donations to my fundraising campaign. I found that every single customer I asked had someone in their life that was either fighting cancer or had recently lost their battle with the disease. All of these people were eager to help. I also do a few bat removal services for residential homeowners every year and have them donate the money for the job to the PMC instead of paying BatGuys for the service.
In the years to come I will rely on companies in the wildlife removal industry and my own customers to support my fundraising campaign every year. I will also donate the fees from several bat removal services that we perform in the field directly to my PMC fundraising campaign.
As of this writing I have ridden in the Pan Mass Challenge for the last 2 consecutive years (2008 and 2009). I plan on riding in this event as long as I am physically capable of doing so. I can't say enough positive things about the PMC. Getting involved in this event has been a life-changing experience for me. It is simply an incredible event that I look forward to every year.
Below are pages that I have created for each year that I have ridden. These pages have my own descriptions of the ride as well as picture that I took along the way. I will continue to update this section every year.
2010 Pan Mass Challenge - Coming soon!